Good for What “Ales” You: Lehigh Valley Breweries & Distilleries
by Laurie Teter
Not since prohibition have so many micro-breweries and small-batch distilleries been on the scene. Of course, today the establishments are legal, and bootleggers have been replaced by true artisans. Grassroots home brewing in the 1980’s spurred the micro-brewing industry that has led to what we know today as “craft brewing.” More recently, the U.S. has seen a resurgence in “craft distilleries” as well. Since a 2012 change in Pennsylvania state law allowing distilleries to sell spirits on site, nearly 100 distilleries have been licensed in the Commonwealth, including several in the Lehigh Valley.
Entrepreneurial pioneers and the abundance of locally grown and sourced ingredients has spawned a regional craft renaissance. From well-established brewpubs to new intimate tasting rooms, the Lehigh Valley is home to a variety of award-winning beers and spirits to satisfy everyone’s taste. Coupled with bar food or fine dining, you’re sure to find a beverage “with your name on it” nearby.
905 Harrison Street, #115, Allentown
Colony Meadery’s tasting room, located in a former Mack Truck factory, offers tasting flights, mead on draft and by the bottle, mead slushies, and regularly scheduled tours. With a satellite location inside Bethlehem’s Moravian Book Shop, Colony Meadery’s award-winning honey-based alcoholic beverages are conveniently available to drinkers throughout the Lehigh Valley. In their first year of competition, Colony Meadery won 13 medals at three national competitions. Using modern techniques and precise fermentation controls, business partners Greg Heller-LaBelle and Mike Manning produce bold, innovative meads with a focus on clean finishes and bold flavor profiles. Award-winning varieties include Straight, No Chaser, a traditional orange blossom mead; Woofidedog, a hopped mead; and Mo-Mead-O, mead with mint and lime. Colony Meadery products are available at restaurants and retail outlets in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
County Seat Spirits
905 Harrison Street, Suite 128, Allentown
Open for sales, tours, and tastings, the distillery and tasting room of County Seat Spirits produces fine spirits including whiskeys, gin, rum, vodka, and bourbon. Founded in 2014, County Seat Spirits is an independently owned and operated craft distillery located in the “County Seat” of Lehigh County – Allentown. Partners John Row and Anthony Brichta are proud to be an integral part of Allentown’s resurgence and many of the names of their spirits represent local landmarks. Class 8 Vodka gives a nod to the heavy duty, dependable Mack Truck, and Sand Island Rum honors the Bethlehem park nestled along the Lehigh River. A true “grain to glass” distillery, each step of the distilling process – from crafting the recipes and milling the grains to fermenting the mash and aging the spirits – is done onsite at County Seat Spirits. It’s a carefully managed process, resulting in smooth spirits. In addition to area retail outlets, County Seat Spirits are available at a variety of restaurants in and around the Lehigh Valley.
530 E. 3rd Street, Bethlehem
Housed in the former Gosztonyi Savings and Trust Bank in Bethlehem’s south side, Social Still combines the ambiance of an old-school speakeasy with a modern day bistro. Bethlehem natives Kate and Adam Flatt opened Social Still in the winter of 2014 and have been producing rye whiskey, whiskey, gin, and rum. Additional offerings include Barrel Gin – premium American gin aged in rye whiskey barrels – and their vodka, bronze medal winner at the New York International Spirits Competition. Bourbon is now available in limited quantities as well. The menu includes small and large plates, salads and sandwiches, and a list of sophisticated classic and seasonal libations mixed with their spirits. The state-of-the-art distilling equipment is housed behind a glass wall and can be seen from any seat in the house. You will also find their brand on the menu at many restaurants in and around the Lehigh Valley.
Two Rivers Brewing
542 Northampton Street, Easton
A twenty-year friendship filled with visits to brewpubs, bars and breweries led friends Judy and Brad Nelson and Kathy and Troy Reynard to fulfill their dream of starting their own brewpub. The foursome collaborated on-site locations and business plans, ultimately purchasing the historic Mount Vernon Hotel in the center of Easton, and in 2011, Two Rivers Brewing was launched. Lunch, dinner and late night menus are available along with Sunday brunch. Gourmet comfort fare includes warm and cold salads, burgers, seafood and duck fat fries. The in-house brewing team oversees ten serving tanks to produce an assortment of beers including Pine Street Blonde, Bankers Brown and Mt. Vernon Lager. Second-floor dining rooms can accommodate private parties for 50+ guests and provide the perfect setting for cocktail parties, wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners and holiday parties.
Fegley’s Brew Works
559 Main Street #101, Bethlehem
812 W. Hamilton Street, Allentown
Opening in the spring of 1998, the Bethlehem Brew Works stood alone in a then declining downtown Bethlehem. The Fegley family paid tribute to Bethlehem Steel and its workforce through the décor, menu, and beers, including flagship offerings of Steelgaarden Wit and Steelworker’s Oatmeal Stout. A few years later, the Steelgaarden lounge was added and later expanded, along with the kitchen and brewery. In 2007 the Allentown Brew Works opened on Hamilton Street, again envisioning a soon-to-be rebounding downtown. The 400-seat restaurant with state-of-the-art banquet facilities, an outdoor patio and lounge houses the main production brewery along with the bottling and packaging facilities. Bethlehem Brew Works, a 270-seat brewery, and restaurant, still produces more than a thousand barrels annually. Both locations offer full menus of elevated pub fare as well as wine, spirits, and mead. Fegley’s Brew Works beers are also available in bottles and kegs throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Funk Brewing Company
19 S. 6th Street, Emmaus
After brewing out of his home for more than 12 years, Kyle Funk and business partner Joe Percoco formed Funk Brewing Company in 2012. Located just off Chestnut Street in Emmaus, brewing began in early 2014, and in August, the bar within the brewery was open for business. In addition to its most popular IPA, Funk regularly brews and serves fine lagers, saisons, Belgian grand crus and Irish-style reds. Partnering with Hauser Estate Winery, Funk has a dedicated tap for the winery’s famous Jack’s Hard Cider. Funk continues to experiment, often with berries, resulting in a Mango IPA and popular Citrus IPA. A revolving group of food trucks provide a variety of foods – from cheesesteaks to cupcakes – that pair nicely with Funk’s offerings.
Saucony Creek Brewing Company
15032 Kutztown Road, Kutztown
Following a professional X Games and action sports career that took him around the globe, Founder and Owner Matt Lindenmuth established Saucony Creek Brewing Company in his home town in 2013. Named for the creek that runs through Kutztown, Saucony Creek Brewing Company incorporates as much locally grown and sourced ingredients as possible into its beer and its food. Visit the Taproom, housed in a former car dealership, for samples, flights, pints, brewery tours and take-out beer. Saucony has forged a large presence outside of the Lehigh Valley as well, particularly in the Philadelphia region, where the brewery is known for hosting a variety of outdoor adventures. Today Saucony Creek is distributed throughout PA, MA, CT, NJ, DE, D.C., MD and VA.